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In 2015, Tom Petty opened up about one of his career regrets: the Confederate flag.

'When they wave that flag, they aren't stopping to think how it looks to a black person.'

In 2015, Tom Petty opened up about one of his career regrets: the Confederate flag.
Petty performs in 2014. Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images.

Legendary musician Tom Petty passed away Monday, Oct. 2, 2017 at age 66. During his more than 40 years making music, Petty won three Grammys, earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was a true icon who helped shape the future of rock and roll.

There's no shortage of positive stories and playful anecdotes about the singer being shared in the wake of his death, but there's one story in particular that stands out for its humanity as well as its connection to current events.


That story, of course, is about the time Tom Petty expressed regret for his early-career use of Confederate flag imagery.

In 1985, Petty released an album called "Southern Accents."

Originally from Gainesville, Florida, Petty set off to make a concept record about the South — though he later admitted that it lost that "concept" thread along the way. In marketing the record and the tour that followed its release, Petty made use of some pretty heavy Confederate flag imagery.

Petty in a 1986 documentary about the making of "Southern Accents." Image via Richard Schenkman/Vimeo.

30 years after the record came out, Petty sat down with Rolling Stone to discuss the Confederate flag, saying he had a few regrets about his relationship to the symbol.

In the interview, which took place hours after South Carolina decided to remove the flag from its statehouse grounds in 2015, Petty showed himself as a man unafraid to admit his mistakes. Describing the flag as "the wallpaper of the South" when he was growing up, Petty explained that in 1985, he hadn't really put a whole lot of thought into what it symbolized.

Two years after he and the band had stopped touring in support of that specific record, Petty noticed more and more fans at his shows were showing up decked out in Confederate memorabilia.

"One night, someone threw [a Confederate flag] onstage," he recalled. "I stopped everything and gave a speech about it. I said, 'Look, this was to illustrate a character. This is not who we are. Having gone through this, I would prefer it if no one would ever bring a Confederate flag to our shows again because this isn't who we are.'"

Petty's moment of self-reflection is a lesson for us all.

Recognizing our mistakes, and correcting for them is one of the most important things we can do as human beings. It's how we grow as people and as a society.

Petty noted that he did find it kind of bizarre that the U.S. seems to be one of the only places where citizens continue to fly the flag of an unrecognized "country" that went to war here and lost but that he understands its contemporary use doesn't necessarily stem from a hateful or racist place. Still, he hoped that others would rethink their support for it, like he did.

Petty performs in 2014. Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images.

"But when [people] wave that flag, they aren't stopping to think how it looks to a black person," he wrote. "I blame myself for not doing that. I should have gone around the fence and taken a good look at it. ... It was dumb and it shouldn't have happened. Again, people just need to think about how it looks to a black person. It's just awful. It's like how a swastika looks to a Jewish person. It just shouldn't be on flagpoles."

So thank you, Tom Petty — for the music as well as the powerful lessons about empathy and self-reflection.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Singer Adele in 2016.


At long last, Adele's name is buzzing around the headlines again.

Anyone who follows the megastar on social media knows the announcement of her new album, "30," has been a bit of a global phenomenon. She was recently on both, yes, BOTH, covers of U.S. and British Vogue, where she gave her first interview in five years.

Her interviews cover a wide range of topics, where she answers questions in her quintessential relatable, slightly sailor-mouthed style we've all come to know and love. And whether she's talking about her divorce, weight loss or accountability as a celebrity, she's giving us a new look at owning your life. For me, those lessons are:


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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!